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Facebook To Turn Over Russia Ads To Congress As Part Of 9-Step Plan To Protect Election Integrity

22 September 2017, 10:40 am EDT By Carl Velasco Tech Times
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Facebook is currently embroiled in a messy situation. It's being probed and accused of many things for the part it allegedly played during the 2016 presidential election.

Here's the brief of it: Russia apparently used the social network to spread ads, with the intention to cause pre-election discord among voters, and Facebook only recently admitted that to be true.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, who's currently looking into President Donald Trump's possible ties with Russia, already combed through more than 3,000 Facebook ads linked to Russia.

Initially, Facebook had apprehensions sharing this data to the Congress over fears of sensitive data leaking to the public, but the social network has softened up after a long privacy and legal review, according to Bloomberg.

Facebook Wants To Protect Election Integrity

In a video posted to Facebook on Thursday, Sept. 21, CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a nine-step outline the company would follow to "protect election integrity" and ensure the platform "is a force for good in democracy."

"I don't want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy," Zuckerberg said. "That's not what we stand for. The integrity of our elections is fundamental to democracy around the world."

The first step is the delivery of $100,000 worth of Russia ads to government officials and investigators. Facebook will start disclosing which pages purchased political ads on its network, a move which Capitol Hill democrats told the Federal Election Commission to push for this week, as Business Insider reports.

Facebook Outlines 9 Steps To Prevent Future Election Interference

Here's what Facebook plans to do, according to Zuckerberg:

• First, the company will actively work with the U.S. government as it looks into possible Russian interference during the 2016 elections.

• Second, the company plans to continue its own investigation on what might have happened on the platform during the election period. Should it discover more evidences pertinent to the overall investigation, it will continue to work with authorities and government officials. This probe, however, will take some time.

• Third, Facebook is going to make political ads more transparent and clear-cut. Facebook will allow users to see which pages bought political ads, in addition to all ads they're running for different audiences. This can help people determine whether there's variation in terms of messaging, since users can't be 100 percent sure if the ad they're seeing is also the ad someone else is seeing.

• Fourth, Facebook will improve its ad review policies for political ads.

• Fifth, it's going to beef up its security investment to protect election integrity. It will do this by doubling the team tasked to work on election integrity, with over 250 people across all teams who will prioritize community safety and security.

• Sixth, Facebook plans to widen its partnerships and collaboration with election commissions globally.

• Seventh, Facebook will commit to sharing threat information with other tech firms and security enterprises.

• Eight, it will work to strengthen the democratic process by creating more services that will protect the Facebook community while engaging in political discussions.

• Finally, Facebook plans to put money where its mouth is by ensuring the integrity of the German elections by detecting fake accounts, working closely with public authorities, and disclosing security measures with parties and candidates.

On the one hand, it's still pretty much up for debate whether Facebook did have a hand in enabling Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. But on the other hand, it's undeniable that Facebook has evolved from an avenue for socializing to a full-blown advertising platform, so one can argue that the criticisms it's now facing are just apt.

For more information on Facebook's involvement in the alleged Russian election interference, read Facebook's post covering its decision to share the ads with Congress, its knowledge of the ads, and more.

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